Author Archives: Dathan Tedesco

Jo opens new Wakefield Acoustics facility

Wakefield Acoustics

Wakefield Acoustics managing director Lee Nicholson with Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox and the Mayor of Kirklees Clr Paul Kane with the plaque marking the official opening of Wakefield Acoustic’s new Heckmondwike premises

Published by the Huddersfield Examiner today.

Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox officially opened the new premises of Wakefield Acoustics at Flush Mills, Heckmondwike.

A company making noise control equipment has opened a state-of-the-art facility.

Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox unveiled a plaque at the new premises of Wakefield Acoustics, at Flush Mills, Heckmondwike, before joining Kirklees Mayor Clr Paul Kane and other guests on a tour of the building.

The new facility has a modern 40,000sq ft manufacturing plant as well as offices.

Wakefield Acoustics said the move from Cleckheaton to larger premises will give the company the capacity to continue to serve its growing international customer base. It has also enabled the business to take on seven new staff from the local area.

Lee Nicholson, managing director, said: “We are very proud to have officially opened our new facility, which signifies a substantial step forward for the company.

“The new premises will allow us to continue to serve our customer base, which has seen significant growth in recent years, as well as continue to hire more staff from the local area.”

Wakefield Acoustics recently announced a 50% increase in turnover since 2012 and has plans to double turnover by 2018.

It said activity had increased in a number of core markets, with orders growing across the board. The firm continued to make progress in overseas markets.

The company works with many of the world’s leading blue chip companies – with experience across sectors such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, power generation, water and waste, recycling and general industry and infrastructure.

With Regret, I Feel I Have No Other Option But to Abstain on Syria

This article was written for and published by The Huffington Post today.

The Syria debate has been unhelpfully framed by two extremes.

The ‘something must be done’ brigade who understandably are desperate to respond to the fascism of Isis and the threat to the UK, but who are often less reflective on the type of action that might be needed, the danger of unintended consequences or the specific conflict dynamics in Syria. There’s a danger of them falling into the trap of the man with a hammer who thinks everything is a nail. We need a nuanced approach not a one tactic fits all plan.

On the other hand there are the ‘nothing can be done’ sect who see military action as an anathema in all circumstances, who view the role of Britain with suspicion and who trace back most if not all injustices in the world to UK imperialism. This depressing lack of sophistication airbrushes from history the role we played in cases such as Kosovo or Sierra Leone – where civilian protection was key – and fixates on Iraq as the sole frame. This group deny they are against action per se (we want a ‘new diplomatic push’ goes the cry), they assert they are just against military action. Yet almost all of them have remained remarkably silent about Syria while hundreds of thousands have been killed, only now raising their voices to state what they are against rather than what they are for. It is best personified by the ‘Stop the War’ coalition, a coalition who don’t seem to know or care that there is already a war in Syria and has been for many years. If they were really the ‘Stop the War’ coalition they would have been actively campaigning for resolute international action to protect civilians and end the war in Syria for many years.

Both extremes are completely unhelpful to the debate. They risk playing out the same tired arguments almost irrespective of the facts on the ground in Syria. They become hypothetical and ideological rather than practical and specific. I’m glad to say the vast majority of MPs are not at either extreme. They are thoughtful and engaged, determined to make the right judgement. Within the Labour party, even in response to some disgraceful politicking and student union-type pressure tactics, the vast majority of MPs are making the judgement on what they think will work, not what will be popular or easy. And that makes the judgement even harder.

As someone who cares deeply about Syria, who has campaigned on the issue before entering parliament, who has pushed for more resolute action at every stage, it is with regret that I feel I have no other option but to abstain on this evening’s vote.

I say regret because I’ve always thought abstaining on key debates was due to one of three things; a cowardly opt out designed to avoid accountability, a case of chronic and unacceptable indecision or the judgement to place political positioning over conviction.

So I have thought long and hard before deciding that I have no other choice. The reason is simple, I’m not against airstrikes in principle. In fact as part of an integrated strategy for Syria they are almost certainly a necessary part. But airstrikes are a tactic not a strategy and outside a strategy I fear they will fail.

Everyone I have spoken to accepts that airstrikes alone will not work, yet the focus on the other elements of the strategy are too weak to be effective, too underdeveloped to be compelling.

I have long argued that Isis and Assad are not separate problems to be chosen between, but are action and reaction, cause and symptom, chicken and egg, impossible to untangle no matter how much we might like to. The brutality of Assad (who has killed seven times the number of civilians as Isis) has helped nurture Isis and been its main recruiting sergeant. As such they can only be addressed together, as part of a coherent strategy.

I have been pushing for this comprehensive strategy for many months and welcomed the Prime Minister coming to the house to set out his plan last week. There were encouraging elements to this plan and at last Syria was being treated with seriousness it deserved (after several years of self-defeating neglect).

Since the first outline of the plan by the Prime Minister I have studied the case he has set out in detail, discussed it with officials and experts, with Syrian people and with campaigning groups trying to end the conflict. My reluctant conclusion is that beyond the tactic of airstrikes, the wider plan remains undeveloped. While much of the intent and language is there, the thing I am most concerned about and which in my view will most change the conflict dynamic is the protection of civilians, particularly from Assad’s indiscriminate barrel bombs. This is relegated to second order status in the strategy, underdeveloped and unthought out. It is a fatal flaw in the strategy.

The Prime Minister has compounded this for me by positioning the strategy as “Isis first”, like we are picking from a menu of independent variables. First we’ll deal with Isis and then we’ll come back to Assad. Wars don’t work like this. Indeed, by refusing to tackle Assad’s brutality we may actively alienate more of the Sunni population, driving them towards Isis.

So I have decided to abstain. Because I am not against airstrikes per se, but I cannot actively support them unless they are part of a plan. Because I believe in action to address Isis, but do not believe that it will work in isolation.

My final hope and plea is whether or not the Government win this vote that they take a long hard look at revamping their strategy for civilian protection in Syria. That in the weeks that come the protection of civilians becomes the central component in our plan. In my view it is only when civilians are protected that we will defeat Isis, and until that is at the centre of our plan I will remain an outspoken advocate for that cause.

Jo Cox is the Labour MP for Batley & Spen

Batley burglaries: Information from north Kirklees police

Sent out to local residents via social media today:

I am sure by now you have all heard about the spate of domestic burglaries targeting high value jewellery and cash in Batley, as well as in Dewsbury and elsewhere.

I have spoken to some of the victims and am in daily contact with the police. The police are treating this issue very seriously and their investigations are active. My office is also treating this issue with the utmost importance.

Please share the link below far and wide. This is advice from the Police’s North Kirklees Crime Prevention Officer which is specific to these crimes. It is good advice, please take five minutes to read it and pass it on.

Until the perpetrators of these crimes are apprehended we all need to do what we can to stay safe and also support friends and family members who may be vulnerable.

The first thing to remember is report anything suspicious to the police, by dialling 101.

http://www.jocox.org.uk/files/burglaries.pdf

Stay safe everyone, and please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on 01924 910 499 or jo.cox.mp@parliament.uk

Warmest wishes,

Jo Cox MP

Celebrating a victory in battle for ‘oasis’

20151015_145536The following was published in the Yorkshire Post today.

A “little oasis in Batley Carr” will stay development-free after an impassioned campaign by residents.

Campaigners living near to Beckett Road are celebrating after Kirklees Council’s Cabinet has now agreed to not allowing housing to be built on a plot of green space opposite their homes. It has now been removed from a list of council sites that will be sold off.

And now the campaigners want it to be designated Urban Green Space – which offers more secure protection.

Peter Claydon, of Beckett Road, said: “I think it’s great that the community here has had its voice heard. This is a very diverse community. What is bringing them together is access to this one remaining spot of green land.”

Mr Claydon said that all the other green spaces have been closed off and the patch opposite Beckett Road allows people from Barnfield residential home, youngsters and other residents an open place to go.

Jo Cox, Batley and Spen MP for Labour, said: “I was only too happy to add my support to the campaign to protect this valuable green space.

“The measured and constructive way residents have brought their argument to the council and worked to get the right result is exemplary.

“The response of the council leadership has also been excellent, they have listened and taken on board what they, and later I, have argued.

“It’s clear when you look at this space that it’s not suitable for housing and the community would get much more benefit from it being a green – it’s a little oasis in Batley Carr.”

October column: Mental health

Jo Cox writes a column every month for the Dewsbury Press. This is the column for October, published today.

I discovered a surprising statistic last week while visiting a local charity: more than 40% of patients visiting their GPs have illnesses that are emotionally based.

In spite of all the injuries, sprains, aches and pains, viruses and infections that lead people to the doctor’s surgery, a large proportion of issues relate in some way to mental wellbeing.

The charity was the Birstall based New Mind Counselling Service. Its staff and counsellors, all of whom are fully trained and accredited (and unpaid), offer almost 900 counselling sessions a year between them.

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day – a day designed to promote awareness about mental health. I’ve made New Mind my Charity of the Month – throwing the spotlight on this impressive local charity, helping to raise their profile and offer my support for their vital work.

We hear again and again that mental health is a priority.  But it is clear that there is a real issue about how much funding the government provides to the NHS to deal properly with mental health, especially for children and adolescents.

As we all know Government cuts impact massively on the range and breadth of services that can be offered. For Kirklees Council this means libraries have been under threat, grass doesn’t get cut, bins get emptied less often and fewer street lights are lit.

But when it comes to mental health it’s a far more complicated process for assessing and juggling and addressing priorities.

There are real concerns that the whole emphasis of mental health services are now geared towards looking efficient and effective rather than being effective and appropriate. We have seen the emergence of a “tick box mentality” in a field where in reality no two boxes can be ticked in the same way.

Waiting times for adults and children are growing an alarming rate. Many believe the services being offered are spread way too thin to be effective and that the attempts to improve access to psychological therapies is at best cosmetic and not sincere.

There are also very strong concerns that some leading therapies are misused or underused as a treatment – providing little more than superficial attention without being robust enough or sustained enough to address many people’s underlying problems.

Here in Batley & Spen, we have a wonderful voluntary organisation providing a great, professional service, which includes many referrals from GPs, which is why I believe such services should be funded by the NHS. It’s great that GPs can make referrals to New Mind but there should be some recognition of the fact that the NHS is in effect getting its services for free.

Many of the UK’s leading mental health charities focus on getting people talking. New Mind does just that.

If mental health is as important as government ministers tell us then the funding should reflect that.

Labour has just appointed the first ever shadow mental health minister, which I hope will increase awareness about this critical issue that affects so many of us.

Each month I will be promoting a local charity, or a regional or national charity with a strong local link. Anyone with any suggestions for my future Charity of the Month can contact my office on 01924 910 499 or email me on jo.cox.mp@parliament.uk